WordPress is putting online retailing in the hands of bloggers by partnering with three e-commerce providers — Ecwid, Shopify and ShopLocket. The deal enables bloggers create slick, online storefronts.
The new plug-ins are only available to WordPress.com Business users, not to be mistaken with the self-hosted WordPress.org. That's the commercial arm of the WordPress parent company, Automatic, which offers fully hosted services to bloggers of all sizes, including TIME and CNN.
In a blog post about the new plug-ins, WordPress says thatusers will be able to connect their sites to their online stores using any of the three partners to sell directly to customers from those sites.
It's an interesting development for WordPress. Last month, we saw many online retailers were finding it difficult to link their websites and the content on those websites to their retails sites, making it difficult to create engaging customer experiences.
To do this, retailers were bringing in vendors like E-Spirit, Elastic Path and Sitecore to help them develop complex deployments. Clearly, this is not the same, if only for reasons of scale. But with the number of sites that WordPress now powers, this is likely to benefit the larger, WordPress.com-powered sites that want to take on e-commerce in a serious way.
It's a Breeze
The ease with which bloggers can become retailers using one of the threee-commerce partners is impressive. According to the WordPress blog:
Users with the WordPress.com Business upgrade already enjoy great features like live-chat support, unlimited storage, and free access to all our premium themes. Now, you can turn your site into a sleek online storefront, and let visitors shop from any post or page."
Once the service is activated users can connect with the products of one of the e-commerce providers from their dashboard. They will also be able to create an online store from the settings page, with connectors to social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
Once the store has been set up, the possibilities are endless. There are options like content editors, easy product update functionality and simple dashboards for administration.
The 3 Partners
Least anyone think that this is just another novelty, a quick look at the e-commerce partners will show how serious WordPress is about this functionality.
- Ecwid, based in San Diego, currently claims to be used by 400,000online retailers across 175 countries and is one of the most popular retail store apps available through Facebook.
- Shopify closed off a funding round in December worth $100 million and is currently used by 80,000 businesses including Gatorade and CrossFit.
- ShopLocket has just been bought by PCH International and enables start-ups create, develop, manufacture and sell hardware products direct to consumers.
WordPress offers three hosted plans, ranging from a free version to a business version at $299 per year. The new capabilities are only available to customers on the $299 plan.